A day after the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government prorogued the Parliament, it brought a new ordinance proposing amendment to the Political Party Act to make it easy for dissidents to split their mother parties.

This move is aimed at benefitting the Madhav Kumar Nepal-Jhalanath Khanal faction of the CPN-UML whose support is crucial for the survival of the government.

Twenty-two UML lawmakers, who belong to the Nepal-Khanal faction had supported Deuba during the trust vote.

According to a minister, the new ordinance passed by the Cabinet today stipulates that 20 per cent or more members of the parliamentary party and the central committee of a political party can split their mother party. Before the amendment, the provisions of the Political Party Act required dissidents to have the support of 40 per cent members in the parliamentary party and the central committee to split their mother party.

Since the Nepal-Khanal faction of the UML lacked 40 per cent support in both the parliamentary party and the central committee, the government brought the ordinance to facilitate the Nepal-Khanal faction to split the party. This means that the Nepal-Khanal faction can split the party without losing parliamentary seats.

The ordinance can also help the Mahantha Thakur-Rajendra Mahato faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal, which has been reduced to minority in the party, to split the party. However, that eventuality could antagonise the Upendra Yadav-Baburam Bhattarai faction of the JSP-N, which is a partner in the coalition government.

The new ordinance was sent to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari for certification, but till 8:00pm, the Office of the President had not issued the ordinance.

The minister said the government had completed all procedures for the presidential approval and was confident that the president would approve the ordinance.

The government's move has been opposed not only by the CPN-UML, but also by Shekhar Koirala of the Nepali Congress. He tweeted, "The government might have brought the ordinance to comfortably run the government, but the idea of running the government through an ordinance cannot be supported. This is not the culture of the NC."

But CPN-UML lawmaker Metmani Chaudhary, who belongs to the Nepal-Khanal faction, said the argument that the ordinance could invite political instability was wrong. "Even large parties failed to ensure political stability. This ordinance will help rival factions of political parties open new parties," Chaudhary said in response to a journalist's query after his faction's central committee meeting today.

The Oli faction of the UML opposed the government's decision to bring the ordinance. Spokesperson Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said UML would launch a peaceful agitation against the ordinance.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 18 2021, of The Himalayan Times.